Bolton Wanderers new signing Matt Mills has spoken out over his time at Leicester City, insisting that there are no hard feelings with former manager Nigel Pearson.
A £4.5m signing from Reading in July 2011, Mills was supposed to spearhead a new era at Leicester, an era that was to be defined by success, yet a mere 12 months down the line and he has been deemed surplus to requirements.
Of all the big money signings from Sven’s time at the club, the acquisition of Matt Mills promised the most, but has duly delivered the least. Things started out brightly, he claimed the captain’s armband and produced several solid displays at the heart of the City defence, but it’s all been downhill since then.
The tipping point in his short spell at the club was Leicester’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of Watford, one of Leicester’s worst displays of the season, in which Mills received a large portion of the blame.
With rumours rife of a post-game bust up between the two, in the following weeks Mills was forced to train with the youth team. Speaking to Radio Leicester Mills said of the decision:
“It was a strange decision from the manager but I have good people around me who kept me going until the end of the season.”
Sending Mills to train with the kids was a clear sign, as if one was needed, that Pearson was not to be questioned or there would be harsh consequences.
On the speculation about an argument between the two, Mills was quick to dismiss any such rumours:
“It was unacceptable to never be given the chance to get back in the team but there was never a big argument. I didn’t want it to appear that I had ‘thrown my toys out of the pram’ because that wasn’t the case.”
“To not be given the opportunity to prove him wrong or prove my worth was the most disappointing thing.”
Pearson’s autocratic management style has clashed with many players throughout his career. His need for full control is a respectable trait, but the manner in which he imposes his leadership has left many players under his stewardship disillusioned.
Mills is not the first and certainly won’t be the last player who will feel the wrath of Pearson. It’s fair to say they won’t be exchanging Christmas cards this year, but Mills had high hopes of Pearson’s upon his arrival:
“When the manager took over I thought his philosophy was perfect for the Championship but I think the breakdown in our relationship was due to me asking too many questions, which he construed as my not believing in his ability.”
The upcoming Championship season is one the biggest in Leicester’s history, after several seasons of disappointment, with major investment in both players and staff and expectant fans to please, Nigel Pearsons decision to rid the club of one of their record singings could cost him his job if things don’t go to plan.
The Thai owners won’t hang around forever if Leicester continue to fall short in their bid to reach the Premier League. As one of many clubs who have fallen into the hands of foreign ownership, success is now more important than ever.
If there’s one thing fans can gleam from the Mills-Pearson debacle, it’s that, for the time being anyway, the owners are fully behind their manager. They have backed him with a decision that could spectacularly backfire if Leicester can’t find a suitable replacement.
The move to sell Mills stinks of Pearson imposing his power and ensuring everyone knows who is in charge. Nobody will be left in any doubt of that now but whether the move will benefit the club in the long run, only time will tell.
Should Mills have been given another chance in the first team?